Sunday, March 18, 2018

Sevilla 3-1 Atletico Madrid: Griezmann’s wonder goal not enough to send Atleti through

Dan Steeden in Editorial 23 Jan 2018

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Sevilla welcomed La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid to the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan for the second leg Copa del Rey tie between the two sides. Atleti were stunned to find themselves on the wrong end of a 1-2 score line in the first leg at the Wanda Metropolitano, and needed an away win to progress. Sevilla meanwhile knew that they could reach the next round with just a draw, so it was all to play for.

Griezmann’s stunner cancels out Sevilla’s opener

Atletico Madrid kicked off knowing that they needed at least two goals to progress to the semi-finals, but the game could not have started in worse fashion for the visitors. It took just one minute for Sevilla to increase their aggregate lead, courtesy of Sergio Escudero. The fullback perfectly timed his back post run to connect with a Pablo Sarabia cross, striking a sweet volley past Moya and burying the ball neatly into the corner. It was a stunning start for the home side, and the Sanchez Pizjuan was understandably rocking right from the off. The early goal forced the visitors to increase their attacking tempo, and Los Nervionenses set up to play on the counter attack.

It didn’t take long for Atleti to find a reply however after a quick spell of attacking pressure, and the equaliser came in emphatic style from the talismanic Antoine Griezmann. The French international struck a looping shot on the half volley from 30-yards out, which sailed over Sergio Rico and somehow ended up in the back of the net. It was a spectacularly speculative effort, but the brilliant effort handed Madrid a lifeline, and a nervousness pervaded the home crowd as a result.

Atleti push for a second but the home side hold firm

Having returned the aggregate lead to just one goal, Atleti proceeded to push for a second goal, piling pressure on the Sevilla back line. Griezmann had two further chances on the volley inside the first half hour, arguably easier opportunities that the one he converted, but both flew wide of the far post. The visitors continued to knock on the door as the half progressed, but their endeavours to find a second again allowed Sevilla to look dangerous on the break, especially with the pace of Luis Muriel up top. Sadly for Los Nervionenses the visitors seemed to have returned to their usual stingy defensive selves, and Sevilla struggled to make much of an impact going forward.

The tempo of the game seemed to slow after the half hour mark as the home side settled into a compact defensive shape, not allowing the Atleti attackers much time on the ball in the final third. Griezmann began to drop deeper and deeper to pick up the ball, which in turn gave the defenders time to get back into position as Diego Simeone’s players attacked. It was actually Sevilla who went closest before the half, with Franco Vazvquez heading just wide of the post after another good cross by Sarabia, but the two sides went into the break level.

Sevilla restore their two-goal cushion

The second half started in almost exactly the same fashion to the first, with a disastrous occurrence for Atletico Madrid. This time it came in the form of a penalty, conceded after a clumsy shoulder barge by Saul on Joaquin Correa, which left the winger with a suspected broken nose. Ever Banega converted the spot kick coolly into the bottom corner, thereby restoring Sevilla’s two-goal cushion. In another near repeat of the first period, the visitors almost answered straight away through Angel Correa, but the Argentine’s shot was saved brilliantly by Sergio Rico.

With Atleti once again needing to score two goals in order to progress, they began to press furiously for a goal, and the tempo of the game was elevated to a breakneck level. Despite their efforts however the visitors struggled to create much penetration behind a Sevilla back line that had been buoyed by the second goal. Tempers began to flare in a game that had become a frustrating encounter for Simeone’s men, and Gabi was soon removed by his manager to prevent him from being sent off.

The home side grab a final goal on the break

As the clock ticked down it looked increasingly unlikely that Atleti would find a way back into the game, and the tempo of the match slowed as their attacking endeavours drained the visiting players. Their advanced position up the pitch also meant that they were susceptible to the counter attack, and it didn’t take long for Sevilla to capitalise on all of the aforementioned factors. It was Sarabia this time who finished off a lightning quick move, driving into the Atleti box on his own and curling a shot into the far corner. The strike seemed to hammer the final nail into the Madrid club’s coffin, putting the tie very much out of their reach with just ten minutes to go.

To their credit Atletico Madrid did not give up, and Gameiro had a great chance to grab one goal back, but the striker directed his header straight at Sergio Rico in the Sevilla goal. The home side did well to hold on under a spell of intense pressure from Atleti, and in the end it was Los Nervionenses who ran out as deserved winners. A 5-2 aggregate score line didn’t flatter the home side at all, and they thoroughly outplayed the visiting side.

Final Thoughts

Sevilla thoroughly deserved their emphatic win, and two quick goals at the beginning of each half provided the perfect sucker punch to knock Atletico Madrid out of the competition. Los Nervionenses looked dangerous in attack, and solid enough in defence to hold firm in the face of a lot of pressure. They now progress to the semi-finals, and certainly possess the quality to go all the way.

For Atletico Madrid this will come as a disappointing defeat that continues their relatively poor patch of form. Simeone’s side looked fairly toothless in attack, and their famous defence didn’t stand up well to the test posed by this Sevilla side. With no more cup games to play, the Rojiblancos will now have to turn their full attention to attaining a strong league position come the end of the season.

Match Report

Sevilla: Rico; Mercado, Lenglet, Escudero; N’Zonzi, Banega, Sarabia, Correa (Nolito, 88’), Vazquez (Pizarro, 84’), Navas; Muriel (Ben Yedder, 73’) 

Atletico Madrid: Moya; Hernandez, Gimenez (Partey, 65’), Godin, Vrsaljko; Gabi (Torres, 56’), Saul, Koke, Correa (Carrasco, 60’); Gamiero, Griezmann 

Goals: Escudero (1-0, 1’), Griezmann (1-1, 13’), Banega (2-1, 48’), Sarabia (3-1, 79’) 

Yellow Cards: Gimenez (18’), Banega (27’), Gabi (54’), Vazquez (54’), (A. Correa, 57’), Torres (86’), Mercado (90’)

Red Cards: None 

Player Ratings 

Sevilla: Rico 7.5; Mercado 7, Lenglet 7, Escudero 7.5; N’Zonzi 7, Banega 7, Sarabia 7.5, Correa 6.5 (Nolito n/a), Vazquez 7 (Pizarro n/a), Navas 6; Muriel 6 (Ben Yedder n/a) 

Atletico Madrid: Moya 6; Hernandez 6, Gimenez 6 (Partey 6), Godin 6, Vrsaljko 6.5; Gabi 6 (Torres 6), Saul 6, Koke 6, Correa 6 (Carrasco 6); Gamiero 6, Griezmann 7


Dan Steeden

Dan is a recent graduate of the University of Birmingham and an often frustrated Wigan Athletic fan. When not despairing at events unfolding at the DW Stadium he can be found fangirling over Antoine Griezmann or staying up into the early hours of the morning to cheer on the Seattle Seahawks.



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